Patient-Centeredness and Nonverbal Communication in Outpatient Medical Visits

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine how nonverbal behaviors predict patient satisfaction and other impression variables in real doctor-patient interactions. Eight videotapes from real doctor-patient interactions were coded for the frequency of three nonverbal behaviors- smiling, nodding, and self-touch. The nonverbal behaviors were measured every 30 sec to examine temporal trends, further analyses will explore these trends. Raters watched excerpts from the interactions and rated the doctor and patient separately on friendliness, interest, and dominance. The real patients self-reported after each interaction their satisfaction with the doctor. Results showed that a doctor who smiled more was rated as friendlier and more interested. æSmiling patients were rated as more dominant and more interested. Patients who nodded more were rated as friendlier and more interested. Finally, more smiling and nodding by the doctor predicted higher patient satisfaction with the doctor. These results contribute to the growing literature on the importance of patient-centered communication in doctor-patient interactions.